Tuesday, November 04, 2014


GIG WISE on Vibe Bar Farewell...

The Sun, Mick Hume on Poppies, WW1 and Vibe Bar closing

Mick Hume in The Sun on Poppies, WW1 and Vibe Bar closing...

Poppies are pretty great lesson for us all

Memorable sight of hundreds of thousands of flowers
By MICK HUME, Sun Guest Columnist
Published: 11 hrs ago
HANDS up all those who would queue to see the Tower of London moat filled with “barbed wire and bones” to commemorate the centenary of the start of the First World War.

Slightly fewer, we might suspect, than the four million who have so far been to see the Tower’s memorial display of 888,246 ceramic poppies — one for every British and colonial serviceman and woman killed in The Great War.

Yet a political row broke out this week, after an art critic suggested that a moat full of bones and barbed wire would make a more fitting tribute to the carnage of 1914-18.

Writing in the Guardian newspaper, Jonathan Jones (no, me neither) damned the sea of poppies as a “prettified and toothless war memorial” trying to “sweep the grisly facts under a red carpet of artificial flowers”.

He called it a “Ukip-style memorial” which, in Guardian-speak, is about as bad as it gets.

David Cameron was even moved to dismiss the criticism and defend the Tower memorial at Prime Minister’s Question Time.

Others rallied to the critic’s defence online, describing the mass display of poppies as too nationalistic (there are no poppies for the dead of other nations) and militaristic. This sort of posturing says more about the pathetic state of political debate today than it does about the reality of the First World War.

The notion of nationalistic tub-thumping around the centenary is a figment of the old Left’s imagination. The British authorities, like other former Allies, have tried to avoid any hint of triumphalism.

Even while dismissing the critics in parliament, Cameron felt obliged to declare that “obviously the slaughter was horrendous”.

From the television studio to the school classroom, every discussion now emphasises the incomprehensible horror of the trenches.

Some might think that people are stupid enough to be duped by flowers and need instead to be bashed over the head with bones.

But those four million who went to see the Tower memorial are unlikely to have gone away with a “prettified” view of the war.

Far from an old-fashioned celebration of military victory, it looks more like a thoroughly modern tribute to the victims.

Today many will wear poppies and sympathise with the armed forces, through charities such as Help for Heroes, without necessarily supporting the wars they are sent to fight in places such as Afghanistan. And they can feel for the sacrifices of the First World War without being retrospectively converted into flag-waving imperialists.

If anybody wants to witness a truly nationalistic display, let them look back to 1915 when the Bishop of London, Arthur F Winnington-Ingram, urged British soldiers to, “Kill Germans — do kill them; not for the sake of killing, but to save the world, to kill the good as well as the bad, to kill the young as well as the old.”

Today those words seem to come not just from another century but from a different planet.

By contrast the art critics and other poppy-bashers who read history backwards suggest that the First World War (if not all war) was just a terrible, meaningless waste. Now, I am nobody’s idea of a warmonger — I donate to the ex-serviceman’s fund, but don’t even wear a poppy.

On this, however, I am with the great Victorian philosopher JS Mill, who said that “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse.”

Nobody wants to celebrate the slaughter of the First World War.

But there will be dark times ahead if we teach our young people that nothing is worth fighting for, ever.

Goodbye mellow brick road

TWENTY years ago, Brick Lane in London’s old East End was a virtual no-go zone for trendy punters, still haunted by the ghosts of Jack the Ripper and Ronnie and Reggie.

The opening of the Vibe Bar in the old Truman brewery started Brick Lane’s transformation into one of the capital’s cultural hotspots.

Now the pioneering Vibe Bar is to close its famous gates, fed up with what co-founder Alan Miller calls the “petty-minded” war being waged on London’s night economy by police and licensing authorities.

The biggest risk you face in Brick Lane these days is being annoyed by a curry house tout or tripping over a Ripper walking tour.

Yet, says Miller, the authorities now insist venues operate “airport-style security – it’s almost like the council expects you to run a prison”.

He has had enough and the Vibe will sadly cease to vibrate on November 11.

We hear scare stories of Islamist patrols warning drinkers and partying women that they are not welcome in East London.

But who needs the Tower Hamlets Taliban when the Metropolitan Police and council are on the case?

Evening Standard on Vibe Bar

Evening Standard

Monday, October 20, 2014

On London Live TV


"The war on the night time economy is damaging business - and ruining our fun"

CITY AM Newspaper

"How Bureaucrats Strangled the Night Time Economy"


Radio Show - East London Radio : from Athens and Ibiza...

This time our intrepid radio presenter has travelled to Athens, talking about perceptions of Greece, and meeting a Shamen (or is he?) in Ibiza. Contact Alan at alan@vibebar.co.uk

East London Radio - Live from Nashville and more...

This time round, Alan Miller is in Nashville, meeting ex-Brit musician Lindsay Jamieson, plus a chat with Polly O’Connell from East London fashion designers Bambi and Manson. A touch of blue grass mixed with new music from Jace Everett and Maggio, plus some standards from Dolly Parton, Bill Withers and more. Alans moved on to Athens then to….well tune in next week as his European tour continues to see where he gets!      Contact Alan @alanvibe on Twitter, or email

East London Radio

Saturday, August 30, 2014

My Weekly Show....

My show this week on East London Radio -

It is a tribute to Carnival, musically & politically - especially in light of recent int'l events - how much we have in common together and how fantastic London is with so many different people together; how much it has improved in the decades since "No Blacks, No Irish" in Notting Hill B & B's - but also how we ALL have a universal interest in challenging chauvinism and small mindedness, WHEREVER it raises its ugly head...

I feature a fantastic street performer, Fredy Beats and some really good Street Artists who all set up for the day in the courtyard at Vibe with Anna Laurini, Maggio Perspicere, Jarvis and more...

Shouts to Battle of Ideas festival & Free Speech Now campaign as well of course, always The Vibe Bar...

Music courtesy of Mory Kante, Barrington Levy The Specials (Official) Angelique Angélique Kidjo and the maestro..Rachmaninoff...

Tweet me for any shouts, mentions, stories, interviews and more @alanvibe x

Hear my show by clicking on this...

New Reguarlish Show on East London Radio...

In this little experiment I am to bring in interesting people from across East London to share what they are doing to make something happen - as well as music that has inspired and continues to inspire me from around the world and featuring a particular theme each time we do it...

This one hones in a bit on Hackney Wick - as well as Misfit Dior who's making it happen in NYC and music from Morcheeba to Bach....

First of my sort-of-weekly Radio Shows

Saturday, August 16, 2014

On BBC LONDON with Shay Grewal & Mark Stephens - News Round Up -

To Listen to show: BBC London Alan Miller

On the show with Shay Grewal and Mark Stephens I covered:

1 Ukraine says has destroyed Russian vehicles that entered territory -

2 Britain is prepared to arm The Kurds in Iraq

3 Some twitter users jumping the gun re Cliff Richard

Wall St Journal - Modern Jew Haters

5 A Year On - How the west green lighted Sisi massacres -


5 Scientists attack claim blacks are prone to violence


6 Ferguson - riots and police


7 Shape Up America, if you want to lead the world

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Gaza. Israel. What to do?

It seems today that everyone has suddenly become an expert on the Middle East. Well, not the Middle East so much, as Gaza and Israel in particular.

These are not experts in the geopolitical or historical sense mind. No, these are the experts of "this is completely exceptional, utterly unique and a particularly different set of inhumane circumstances" shrill and exasperated "experts". With the tiniest shreds of historical references to Balfour and much talk of Apartheid - yet with a sense of apparent moral certainty that is quite alarming.

This is interlaced with the terrible images of children suffering.

Anyone who has any shred of humanity and consideration for fellow human beings cannot fail but to be moved by such horrible images, of carnage and destruction. Then the images of the children. What words can be summoned up when faced with such bleak images of upended concrete and steel, spiralling numbers of dead...and at the front and foremost...the children?

It is perhaps not fair to lump together what is being posted and sent around on Social Media generally by people with journalists attempts to make sense of complex issues

You might expect the Times of Israel to ask why there are no images of Hamas fighters in Gaza but does this mean it is a wrong question to ask just because they have asked it?

Another question is why, today the prevailing images are almost entirely and exclusively of suffering and victimhood? Of course it is true that brutal images are of brutal realities. However there was a time when the images presented to the world were of Palestinian"Fedayeen" - those hailed as freedom fighters and seen as very militant. Bold warriors, armed, ready to fight for an idea of a nation state. A good example of some of this iconographic imagery is on display at Here and Elsewhere currently at The New Museum, Bowery, New York City.

Older images of fighters, armed - along with a clear political program that was predicated on self determination and often linked more broadly to other international liberation struggles across the world, is an absolute relic of the past. Imploded in the collapse of strong political alternatives, we now have Hamas, the curated and sculpted child of certain Israeli strategists who wanted to weaken Fatah. Like the USA supporting anti Communism through Islamic militants, it hasn't turned out so well...

Many want to talk today about the "global domination" of the media by certain interests (and often "Jewish" is referred to) - although it would seem from the flurry of images, Facebook and Twitter posts, conversations in the supermarket, deli, on the streets and at dinner parties, Gaza is the thing on everyone's lips.

Maybe suddenly everyone has become radicalized. Or perhaps what is happening, is more of a reinforcement of already deeply seated trends.

Those trends are to promote victimhood as the most profound thing today - people aim to take prestige from being "surviviors" of all kinds of things. We are encouraged to side always with "victims" - and people are increasingly prone to being presented as weak, flawed, psychologically impaired. Alongside this, there are few universals. No more Red Threat. So a Good Versus Evil story is sometimes desired in a world of prickly and complex issues. In many ways, it seems that the Gaza / Israel - Good / Evil story has become the dominating idea. We cannot and should not ignore all of the aspects of the conflict. Terrible suffering, of children especially is gruesome and horrific. However to simplify it all to being only about this does nobody any favors. Particularly those looking to forge an independent, strong, autonomous homeland.

Whenever one asks questions, there can be a tendency for people to retort "Why are you diverting attention from the main issue?" - however, what the main issue is will obviously have a context. How that context is addressed is also crucial.

I shall explore the context a little more fully below, but one question that some people have asked, very poignantly I believe, is how come Gaza has (along with Ukraine) had quite so much attention when far less is discussed in other extremely violent areas, with enormously high death tolls such as Syria, Congo, Aleppo and others. Is it, as the editor of UK online publication Spiked asked, that the continual posting and honing in on images of children is some kind of "moral pornography" and does little to enlighten about the situation.

Others have wondered why Syrian suffering children have garnered less interest as well as suffering in Congo, Aleppo and beyond. Brendan O Neill, was one of the few journalists to remind British leaders, in their desire to condemn Israeli mortar attacks and shelling that killed civilians that they had voted for Nato bombing in Libya which... also killed many civilians. Were they as outraged at that? Where was the broader outcry?

Indeed, in The Australian he argued that Israel is experiencing an unfair bias internationally as though it issomehow entirely more terrible than anyone or anything else. Scott Lucas reckoned that The Atlantic coverage of Jeffrey Goldberg I referenced further up was misleading and wrong to argue this way.

If we aim to get to the truth, we also know that in war, often truth can become a major, first casualty. We also know that war is hell. These cliches do not legitimize anything of course and journalists particularly, although all of us I believe, have a responsibility to aim to understand things truly as they are.

Perhaps it should come as little surprise that some will just grab any images or videos and use them to reinforce an argument, such as Syrian deaths being presented as though they are Palestinians.

While Hanine Hassan raises a question on Al Jazeera Opinion asking why Europeans and Americans who go to fight for Israelare not labelled as Jihadists - she then goes on to term the use the term "genocide" in Gaza. Genocide has now become used in many contexts - and losing much of its specificity ends up describing very horrible or nasty things; but labelling them as a specific quest to entirely exterminate a particular group of people is a deceptive use of language.

We should take note that when a BBC journalist simply retweets an image, things have become very problematic. Jon Donnison's tweet on "pain in Gaza" was actually a Syrian girl, in...Syria.

Will Saletan penned a piece in Slate arguing that Israel is not trying to kill Palestinians, but rather trying to spare them although Omar Baddar strongly criticized this in Salon siting Andrew Sullivan's question asking how are Hamas expected to fight and where to store their weapons in the context of operating from Gaza. One does not have to agree with Melanie Phillips on all things however, to wonder why such effective tunnels are built while shelters and other infrastructure are so glaringly absent. She then controversially asked, with the constant numbering of dead, if people were saying "there are not enough dead Jews".

It does seem that there is an increasingly shrill harmony ascending western "discussion" about Israel and Gaza. It has become very apparent that knee-jerk, ahistorical reactions and over simplified rants seem to be coming to dominate western discussion about Gaza and Israel.

One doesn't need to have read Joesphus's The Jewish Wars to know that there have been many names to that region dating back thousands of years. Herodotus refers to it in his phenomenal The Peloponessian Wars in the Greek Palaistine as part of region of Syria and Judaea and King Herod's Israel were situated there. From early Egyptians, through Babylonians and Canaanites right through to the emperor Constantine deciding (somewhat pragmatically) to use the newly emerged Christian faith system to exert more universal rule across "Byzantium", it solidified Roman rule east and west - until the sacking of Constantinople and rule by the Ottomans.

That rule went as we know lasted several centuries up until the First World War. Thereupon, the British, facing a changing dynamic to their own empire and having experienced considerable exhaustion, in 1917 announced the Balfour Declaration re Palestine - with a very pragmatic British concern of having some kind of relationship and "buffer" potentially in the region where major empires were fighting and some failing. The British had agreed to honor any Arab uprising against Ottoman rule and yet were playing the pragmatic empire politics.

It is important just to remind ourselves of the historical context of the region - and the role the major western states have played and continue to play, in order to understand how things are working today. While the Arab revolts of 1930's were put down, an exhausted post WW2 Britain was unable to administer internationally any longer and the creation of Israel in 1948. It should be remembered however, that had it not been for events in Europe - with The Holocaust; most Jews would not have decided to go to Palestine. Blocked British borders and American ports meant often there were few choices. Contrary to any "safe haven" idea, the not so popular views of Theodor Herzl, which chimed remarkably with more racist ideas that Jews and Gentiles could not live together, became the reality of a Zionist state.

The USA as new hegemonic power seized the moment in the period of the Cold War

The post war competing "Superpowers" Communist/Democratic split ensured there was a clear use for Israel in the region - as a check against pan-Arabism and national liberation struggles that concerned western elite interests during the Cold War period.

However, to simply de-contextualize all of this and simply present Israel as some strange "mad", "out of control" "blood thirsty"and particularly evil and worse than others does nothing to either understand the situation, nor indeed to attempt to resolve it.

Up until recently, Palestinian aspirations were for a secular, free region, for Muslims, Christians, Jews and those of no faith. As it happens, that was the very reason Theodor Herzl also argued strongly for Palestine being a good region to head to. Anti-Zionism in the age of national liberation struggles was not against Jews - but opposed to the political outlook of Zionism.

It was always annoying and distracting in the past, when those that believed strongly in Zionism would accuse anyone that criticized the state of Israel as being anti-Semitic. It was dishonest and an attempt to challenge criticisms or alternatives. However, there has been a significant change in recent years. It has become increasingly acceptable in many places to converge descriptions of the state of Israel with "Jews". From student demonstrations in Britain, to attacks on synagogues and citizens in France, the increasing fashionable outlook of on the one hand demonizing Israel as something so special, so different, so exceptional, along with the merging of Zionist and Jewish identities represents an ignorant and dangerous trend.

Not just in Europe, as in Boston recently with many publications reporting on
chants and placards at demonstrations
such as "Death to Jews" and "Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the Gas" although Stop The War Coalition interviewed participants who said they would challenge such ideas.

We need to all be very careful about clambering to prove our prejudices, in often complex and difficult situations where things are not always immediately clear. There also should be a belief in truth and diligence in reporting. From the wreckage of MH17 several news outlets reported this was despicable separatists rummaging through dead people's property, but it turned out to be an impromptu prayer session for the victims. Similarly, The Guardian reported on how a UN claim that ISIS has been forcing all the women in Mosul, Iraq to have FGM was seemingly based on hype not substance.

Of course passions will run high. I happen to agree that they should. After all, nothing has changed in the world without ordinary people becoming engaged and passionate. However, just because one is passionate and enraged does not mean one is right.

A uniting chorus about how "ugly" and "mad" and what a "Pariah" or Rogue State Israel is simply ignores reality. The USA sends drone bombs to Pakistan and the west has backed interventions against "rogue" and "pariah" states, militarizing and creating killing zones across the Middle East. To pretend that somehow Israel is the worst culprit is beyond silly, it is dangerous.

I have always believed that Christians, Muslims, Jews and non believers can live cheek-by-jowl in harmony. I live some of the time in New York City and it is abundant proof of my point. There is no objective reason why this cannot be the case anywhere in the world.

A solution in the middle east should be made up and created by the people in the region themselves. As I argued against western intervention in Syria
on Huffpost some time ago, I reiterate here. Calling on the UN, the USA or the "west" to intervene does nothing to help ordinary people in the area. It simply exacerbates issues.

It is true of course that the USA provides enormous financing for Israel (and less for Gaza). Although even the US position on Israel has changed and is continuing to do so. The Economist this week considers the changing role of Europe and the US to Israel and the region and it is apparent that President Obama and others are increasingly viewing Israel as somewhat less necessary due to the new contours of geopolitical realities. No more Arab Nationalism and Cold War to deal with and an illiterate grasp of post Arab spring requirements have meant it is somewhat of a thorn in its side often.

I have always believed it is possible to have in that region a solution that is based on federations, where all people can live alongside one another. That is based on believing in people, together, resolving common problems and struggles. The last few weeks have made it far more clear though that many are not interested in a nuanced and difficult discussion. Not just in the press (clearly not dominated by "Jewish interests" for anyone who takes a glance anywhere) but general conversations and across Social Media, things have become a rant.

One may not believe that Zionism is the solution to anyone's problem, born as it is out of the European horror of a failure of society and anti-Enlightenment. However, the current climate of racist, anti-Jewish invective makes transparent a new very worrying development. One can be opposed to shelling civilians and think it is wrong without going along with this new zeitgeist to show how "emotionally literate" one is by posting cheap and shallow social media messages about Gaza (but not in so many other places).

Real freedom comes from having a political project, a plan and aiming to convince people to get together to organize around principles to achieve goals. This is not being offered. Instead we are witnessing - and some are participating in an invitation to hate and pour scorn - yet no talk of possible solutions and freedom.

In his astonishing new book, The Quest for a Moral Compass, the writer and commentator Kenan Malik charts the history of humanity's attempt to make sense of the world across the ages. He soars and digs deeply and explores our exploits from every region. What is so inspiring is the attempts to understand, to improve our knowledge of the world and ourselves. Taking in everyone from Socrates to Ibn Rushud, Kongzi to Fung Yu Lan and many others - he gradually begins to present the case for the world being in our grasp at all times.

We can always make and remake our world. However in order to do that, a desire to understand and be clear is essential. I do not see many places where people are looking and arguing for genuine solutions with regard to Gaza and Israel. Instead I see lots of consensus. Bland consensus, dressed up loudly shouting, blindly pointing and worryingly ignorant.

Having a calm and clear, honest debate would be very welcome in the midst of what at times seems to verge on near-hysteria.